The Brutality of Fact

The reason I named my project Francis Bakin.

Like I said, I'm fascinated by the creative process, mine and others'. It's a long boring story I won't go into here but I had quite a creative block for a long time. Working with other people was fine but when it came to being in a room alone with only a pencil and my ideas, I was stymied. Blocks are boring.

So I started reading some books on how other artists work. One very good one that Gretchen gave me was by Twyla Tharp. And in that book, Twyla says that the best book SHE ever read about the process was this book by Bacon. So that's how it came to me.

Pretty much from the first word Bacon's ideas smacked me in the head. He believed that true creative spark lies in the accidental. Now I've been a big believer in this concept from the get-go when it comes to making music. The mistakes are where the new ideas come. How an artist deals with a mistake is where you can hear their purely original voice. For instance, when playing a live show and something happens that you didn't expect: a player goes somewhere unexpected musically, for example, in that instant you're left to your own devices to make something work in that split second of time. What you say there is your pure instinct. It's your pure voice. At a certain point, I learned to embrace the mistakes and the unexpected.

The first song that I recorded for this record was "Marathon Runner." Gretchen and I worked out the chords from a vocal and drum track I had laid down. Then she played a pass through the song, sort of as a placeholder so we would remember the chords in the future. Then we decided she was going to play as if she had never played guitar. "Play wrong" might have been what I asked of her. Lovely Gretchen, such a good sport. So she did a pass through, very apologetic at the end of our short time together that she hadn't come up with anything usable.

When she left I started listening by just turning both of the tracks on to see what happened when I did that, not knowing what if anything we were going to use. From beginning to end of the song, the two tracks worked so well together that they not only became the final guitar track for the song, but also informed every song to come as far as the sound and the way we were going to work together. I was reading Bacon at this time. It was a huge AHA! moment.

Now I'll never say accident is the only way to creation. The years of time spent on technique and the natural talent Gretchen has makes it possible for her to "play wrong" and have it end up to be something so cool. She has good taste even when letting loose with the rules. Really, the real art is knowing when the accident has potential. Only work will get you there.

There are other reasons Bacon means so much to me. The fact he just decided one day at a Picasso exhibit that he had to paint, when he hadn't done so before, resonates with me. His feeling that desperation made him an artist. His outside vision. Nobody else meant more to me as I was floundering around, questioning my ideas and way of working and talent and voice. Well, Francis and Gretchen too of course, who never said no when I asked her to follow my whim.

I'm sorry, Francis Bacon, for bastardizing your name for my project. But it's just funny is all. There has to be a little humor in things too. Somewhere in the book, that's there too.

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